Workforce Development

The US Manufacturing Industry is Growing; Here’s How to Keep it Strong

September 17, 2014

While China and other countries face challenges to their once-burgeoning manufacturing sector, all signs in the US are pointing to a growing industry now seen as a “rising star” in the world market. Thanks to an abundance of natural gas cutting energy costs, an increase in auto sales, and a host of other factors, the US manufacturing industry is now growing at its fastest pace within the past three years. But there’s one obstacle standing in the way of a full US resurgence and the improved job numbers that could come with it: a lack of skilled American workers. 

The Aspen Institute Manufacturing and Society in the 21st Century Program convened leaders in the industry this past summer to share ideas on how to meet the demand for a more highly skilled workforce. While the meeting focused on lessons from the world-famous German manufacturing industry, we spoke with a few of the attendees who are implementing programs here in the US to address this issue. Watch the video clips below to learn more about the American workforce skills gap in manufacturing and possible solutions to close it. 

In today’s culture of innovation, the need for more advanced skills is growing 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown says the workforce issue in American manufacturing companies is “one of the most critical issues facing our future.” Watch the video clip above to hear her proposal of how to tackle the widening skills gap.

To address the gap, enlist help from community colleges

“The primary thing that business can do… is to get local community colleges that are nearby to tailor the curriculum to the exact needs [the manufacturing businesses] have,” said Snap-On Incorporated Chairman and CEO Nicholas T. Pinchuk. Above, Pinchuk explains how Snap-On has done this, resulting in “8,000 students earning more than 15,000 manufacturing-related certifications,” he said.

What about recruiting and promoting more minorities?

Arjonetta Gaillard, a human resources manager at MTU America, explains the “steel ceiling” many minorities in the manufacturing sector face in moving up the ranks, and shares steps her company has taken to train both current and future employees.